As a website design company in Columbus, Ohio, one question we hear a lot is, “how do I get more traffic to my website?” To best answer that question, let's first clarify 3 things:
1. Differences between your website and marketing
2. Differences between "inbound" and "outbound" marketing
3. Explanation of SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
1. Website vs. Marketing
A website on its own, like a brick-and-mortar store, will not magically attract new customers. That is the role of marketing. While there is some setup required for your website to be found by search engines like Google, it takes work to outrank your competitors and get more traffic. The main job of your website it to "convert" people once they find your website—fill out a form, call you, or buy a product.
“If you build it, they will come.” False.
2. Inbound vs. Outbound
Inbound marketing is the process of creating assets (like optimized web pages, blog posts, case studies, and ads) that lead potential customers back to you. This is different than outbound marketing, where you are the one reaching out to potential customers through emails, cold calls, or door-to-door soliciting. A good marketing strategy includes both inbound and outbound applications, and doesn't rely too much on one over the other.
3. SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
The SERP (search engine results page) is the page of results you when searching online. The SERP generally includes paid ads, local listings, and organic results, in that order. To get more traffic to your website, you need to rank higher in each of those three categories.
IMPACT, an inbound consulting agency, says one of the other top search engines after Google, Bing, reports that websites on the top get 42% of the traffic; the second gets 11% and third only gets 8%. So, it clearly indicates why your websites needs to be on top.”
How to Get More Website Traffic?
Now that we have given you you have brief background in the differences between your website and marketing, the differences between inbound and outbound marketing, and an explanation of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), let's jump into things!
To get more traffic to your website, you have to rank higher in each section of the SERP:
1. Paid Search (ex. "Google Ads")
2. Local Search (ex. "Google Maps")
3. Organic Search
The rest of this article includes ways of ranking higher in each of these 3 categories.
PART 1: PAID SEARCH
When people talk about "paid search", they're likely talking about Google Ads. This is because 90% of search traffic is done on Google, as compared to less than 2% for Bing according to SparkToro in 2018.
Whether you've never used Google Ads before, or you're looking to optimize your account, setting up a simple "search" and "display (retargeting)" campaign with a modest budget (about $60–$90 a month) can yield measurable results—assuming you're in a good market.
Before you begin, make sure you have created a Google Ads account at ads.google.com.
Step 1: Campaigns
Google Ads is laid out in 3 parts: "Campaigns", "Ad Groups", and "Ads & Extensions". The first step in getting your ads to display on Google is to create a Campaign. A Campaign defines the style of your ad. The most popular Campaigns by far are the "Search Campaign" and the "Display Campaign" (also known as "Retargeting", but more on that later).
A Search Campaign is a text only ad that appears at the top of the SERP. This is the style of ad most people are familiar with. A Display Campaign is an image-based ad that appears on other websites in the form of banners. This ad is most effective when targeted to people who have already seen your website (aka "Retargeting").
To create a new campaign, navigate to your campaigns tab, click the blue plus button, then click "start new campaign". For the goal, select "Leads", then for the type select "Search" (do this same process for creating a Display Campaign, but select "Display".
Add your targeting, like location. For Display Campaigns, you'll want to select "Website Visitors > All Visitors (AdWords" under "Audience". This is how you setup "Retargeting". Retargeting is good for Display Campaigns because once someone has visited your website, they will continue to see your brand as they visit other websites, giving them the impression that you are potentially a bigger company than you might be, and reminding them to buy.
From there, set your daily budget ($3 a day, or $90 a month is a good place to start).
Step 2: Ad Groups
After your setup your Campaign, you are ready to create your Ad Group. For Search Campaigns, this is where your will add the keywords you want to target. If you sell potato chips, you may want to add keywords like "potato chips" or "Lay's Chips". You can even enter one of your competitor's website and Google will suggest keywords automatically.
Step 3: Ads & Extensions
The final step in getting your ad live on Google is to create what it will say and look like. A good way to start is to type your keyword(s) into Google and seeing what your competitors' ads look like. For Search Campaigns, you will create headline text, description text, and "extensions" (like your phone number, location, links to pages on your website, etc. Display Campaigns give you the extra option to add images.
Step 4: Google Ad Management
Once your ads are active on Google, you'll want to monitor negative keywords. Google Ads uses a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) model, meaning you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. To manage negative keywords, go to "Campaigns" > "Keywords" > and "Search Terms". These are the list of search terms people are using to find your ad. If there are terms that don't make sense, simple click on them and mark "Add as negative keyword".
PART 2: LOCAL SEARCH
Google My Business is one of the greatest advantages local businesses have in ranking online, getting more website traffic, and more business. Google My Business levels the playing field, and gives small, local business a chance to compete with large corporations.
Setting up Google My Business is as simple as creating an account on business.google.com. To verify your business, Google usually mails your a postcard with a unique PIN number. You cannot use a PO box, and if you run your business out of your house, but don't want this information public, simple opt for a service area, like "Columbus, Ohio".
Now that your Google My Business account is setup, let's discuss ways to rank higher so your listing will get more traffic to your website and more calls to your business.
Step 1: Proximity
One of the biggest factors of which business ranks higher on Google My Business is the proximity of the business to the person doing the search (based on location data on the person's device). Unless you are just starting out, there is not much you can easily do to improve your proximity, minus opening new locations across town, or where your target marketing is located.
Step 2: Categories
Properly categorizing your business is important for ranking. If your business does home remodeling, but also does bathroom remodeling and kitchen remodeling, make sure to add those categories as well to help your chances of getting found.
Step 3: Reviews
Besides the ranking benefits, reviews help conversions. Given 3 options, people are more likely to checkout the one with the highest review first. It is a good idea to review your competitors' Google My Business listings to see how many reviews they have, and then put a plan in place over the next 12 months (or whatever timeframe is reasonable) to get a set number of reviews per month until you surpass them in both number of reviews and average rating.
Step 4: Name
The name of your business on Google My Business is one of the most frustrating ranking factors, as it exposes how infant the product still is. It should not matter if the most popular pizza place in town, with the most reviews, doesn't have the word "pizza" in it's name, but to Google, it does. Adding a keyword or two to your name could increase your traffic dramatically.
Step 5: Posts
Some of you may remember Google Plus, Google's failed attempt as a social media platform. However, Google is trying again though, by adding the ability to post from your Google My Business listing. While this has more obvious benefits for some businesses, like those who host events or have regular promotions, it is a feature Google is pushing, and we would be wise to use it if we want to rank. If you are already posting to social media through a scheduling tool like Sendible, it won't require any extra work to add Google My Business as well.
Step 6: Photos
One of the insights Google My Business gives you is the number of photos you have compared to businesses like yours. You want to make sure you at least have that many photos. You also want to take advantage of geo-tagging with tools like GeoImgr. Simple upload your photos, and add your business location. GeoImgr will let you download a version of your photo with updated metadata. Use this version to upload to Google My Business for an extra boost.
Step 7: Q&A
Q&A is a relatively new feature of Google My Business. It lets anyone ask a question about your business, and (this is the scary part) anyone answer. This is visible to everyone who sees your Google My Business listing, so it is a good idea to get ahead of this. Simply login to a different Gmail account, and ask your business a question. Then, from your business account, answer that question as professionally as possible.
STEP 3: ORGANIC SEARCH
Organic listings are heavily skewed towards large companies and directories. However, while ranking higher in the organic listings is not as effective as paying for ads, or optimizing your local listing, the health of your organic ranking is still important for your overall SEO health.
Step 1: Optimize Website Pages
Search engines, like Google, work by "crawling", "indexing", and "ranking" websites. When search engines crawl your website, you want to make sure that it finds words that you want to rank for. These are your "keywords". You want to make sure you have keywords in several places:
Page URLs: If you are trying to rank for "website designer in Columbus, Ohio", you want to create a webpage for just that. Make sure the keywords are in the URL, like "https://makeshark.com/website-design-columbus-ohio".
Page Title & Description: On the SERP you will see a list of websites, along with short titles and descriptions for each one. You want each of your pages to have unique titles and description that include your keywords. A recommended format for Titles is "[keyword] | [location] | [brand", or "Website Designer | Columbus, Ohio | Makeshark".
Page Text: This may be obvious, buy you need to include keywords in the headline and body copy of each of your webpages. A simple place to start is search Google for the keyword you are trying to rank for and make a list of your top 5 competitors (excluding directories, like YellowPages). Then, craft your text to be similar in content and length to theirs (without plagiarizing of course).
Image Atl Text: Make sure each image on your website includes alternative text. This should include keywords as well. Not only is this good for your SEO, but it also helps accessibility. If an image doesn't load, visitors can still read what the image was suppose to be. If someone with a disability is on your website, they can still make out what an image is as well.
Step 2: SCHEMA
SCHEMA is a way to include information about your business, like hours, location, prices, etc, in a structured format on your website so that search engines can more easily understand what your website is about. The most simple way to add SCHEMA code to your website is by using a free online SCHEMA Markup Generator.
Step 3: SSL Security
Search engines, like Google, want to make sure it is directing its users to secure websites. If they started sending us to insecure websites, we would lose trust in them, and take our business somewhere else. Therefore, Google has started considering secure websites higher ranking than nonsecure websites in most cases. If your website is secure, you will see a lock icon to the left of your domain name in you browser. If it is not secure, you can contact your host about adding this.
Step 4: Mobile-Friendly
As more and more people are viewing websites on their mobile devices, mobile-friendliness is becoming more and more of a ranking factor. A big factor in your website's mobile-friendliness is its speed, or how fast it loads. This is so important to Google that they made a simple tool that you can use to test your websites mobile-friendliness. Just enter your domain name, and Google will give you recommendations on how to improve your website's mobile-friendliness.
Step 5: Blog Regularly
At this point, we've all heard the so-called "marketing experts" say numerous times that we need to be blogging. Blogging gives you a chance to add new pages to your website with keywords, and give search engines new content to crawl, index, and rank.
We recommend to start blogging by choosing 3 topics you want to rank for, and posting a blog about one of these every month. If you need help creating content, look at your competitors for inspiration! Just don't plagiarize. Not only is that morally wrong, you won't get any points from Google for duplicate content. You can also outsource your blogging. Websites like Upwork.com let you find an expert in your field to create blog posts as you need.
If you still can't wrap your mind around the benefits of blogging, use your blog as a way to stay in contact with your customers. Customers are the easiest people to market to, as they have already trusted you with their money. Write about something that helps them, and send that to them as part of your monthly newsletter.
Step 6: Build Backlinks
In addition to content, the other most important ranking factor is the quality and quantity of websites that link back to your website ("backlinks").
With Backlinks, it is best to start with researching your competitors to see how many backlinks they have, and where they are getting them from. You can do this with tools like Ahrefs.com, SEMrush.com, or Moz.com. In general, backlinks come from a handful of places:
Directories (like Yelp, YellowPages, Avvo, etc.)
Makeshark is a website design and marketing company in Columbus, Ohio. We help local businesses grow online with better website design, SEO, social media, and branding.
If your business needs help getting more website traffic and leads, contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (614) 656-6460 to schedule a free consultation.